Camp in the bush, swim alone in the thermal pools, indulge yourself in the cafes and restaurants and take a drive around the hot spots of Katherine.

Having just spent a week taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Katherine I highly recommend it as an easy and different breakaway.

My favourite camping spot...
Elsey National Park, near Mataranka is a treasure trove for camping and thermal springs. Head towards Mataranka Homestead and detour along John Hauser Drive, stopping off at points of interest like an old sheep dip or a botanical walk into the bush. Maybe have a picnic here too? At the end of the road Jalmurkuk campground is set up alongside the Roper River. Grab one of the large bush sites with a built in fire place (make sure to collect wood outside the park) and spend a few days testing out the camp oven recipes. Beautiful gum trees shade the sites, birds are plentiful and when we were there a tiny crescent shaped moon was a highlight in a star filled sky.

Up at the Homestead, Mataranka Thermal Pool is just beautiful (especially at the moment with so few people about). Float through blue, warm waters which are pristine and so clear it’s just like glass. 

On the northern side of Mataraka stop off at Bitter Springs. Nestled into the bush you’ll discover beautiful thermal waters where a natural creek flows gently through the bush. Don’t forget your “noodle”.

Stay for a while around Elsey, there is plenty more to see.

Mataranka attractions
Photo credit: Tourism NT, Sam Earp and Sue Moffitt

Other places I stayed (plenty of opportunity to use your tourism voucher here!!)

Katherine’s hot spots (self-drive)

Here’s an extract from Darwin for all Seasons. Drive in and around Katherine, taking in attractions, cafes and hot springs to experience the best of Katherine.

“Head to Nitmiluk Visitors Centre …………. And book on one of the daytime cruises which take you through spectacular wild scenery. The gorge walls are sheer with just an occasional tree on top of the ridge. Trees of green and silver hang over the banks and sandy beaches slope down to the water. It is a beautiful cruise with options to visit either the first 2 or 3 gorges. Note there is a walk between the gorges with rock ledges and a few steps.

Then working back from the gorge, the next couple of places are on Gorge Road. The first stop is Top Didj Cultural Experience and Art Gallery, with both a gallery and a daily cultural programme including spear throwing and Aboriginal painting. The gallery has a huge range of local Aboriginal art for you to peruse and buy.

Katherine attractions
Photo credit: Tourism NT and  Shaana McNaught

The informative and inspiring Katherine Museum is next. Here you can spend hours discovering how this small town played a large part in the settlement of Australia. The story of the 1-in-50year flood of 1998 is just one of the tales. In the grounds is the old telegraph station with a wealth of memorabilia. There’s also the old hangar building which plays host to Dr Clyde Fenton’s Gypsy Moth, the original Flying Doctor’s plane.

The Visitors Centre in town is a tourist and knowledge hub, so continue your research for day 2 here. As a finale visit the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre which features Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal art and cultural exhibits from around the Katherine region.”

Snippets for a Day 2 drive 


All about Sue
Sue is absolutely passionate about living in Darwin. She says "It is the best place I have ever lived". She has published three guide books with her new book Darwin for all Seasons just being published. Sue has a background in travel and tourism, owning her own tour guiding company in Sydney and in her books she captures a really intimate view of Darwin and the Top End with her own personal tips and local haunts.

Click here to see more about Sue.